Latvia’s parliament votes to allow same-sex civil unions

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Public opinion remains divided on homosexuality in the Baltic nation.

Latvian lawmakers voted on Thursday to allow same-sex civil unions, providing same-sex couples with legal recognition for the first time. However, same-sex couples will still have fewer rights than married couples.

The legislation allows same-sex couples to register their partnership, giving them hospital visitation rights as well as tax and social security benefits, but not the right to adopt children or inheritance. It is due to take effect in mid-2024.

“This is a good day. Society has taken an important step in creating a modern and humane Latvia,” said Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa on X, adding that the legislation “sends the signal that all families are important.”

Latvia swore in its first openly gay president, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in July. Rinkēvičs, who served as the country’s foreign minister for more than a decade, is also the first openly gay head of state in the EU.

But public opinion remains divided on homosexuality in the Baltic nation. In a 2022 survey on public attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people by Latvian market researcher SKDS, 25 percent of respondents said they were accepting, 49 percent were neutral and 23 percent condemned homosexuality.

In 2005, Latvia’s parliament voted to alter its constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. But in 2020, the country’s highest court ruled that unmarried couples are entitled to recognition by the state.

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